Boarding an airplane is always exciting, but there’s something fun and amusing about settling into your premium economy or business class seat to find that special little amenity kit full of goodies, just for you. Some travellers chuck them, others collect em’, and a surprising number of people even sell the special limited edition versions on eBay. I certainly won’t comment on whether or not I have an entire closet full of them, untouched and waiting for a happy home.
Like many things in travel though, there’s a cost to providing little bags of goodies for passengers, a cost which also brings environmental impacts in a time where looking for solutions is essential. Virgin Atlantic is the first airline looking to change that, and it’s not messing around…
For starters, forget the term amenity kit. Virgin Atlantic is creating the goodie bag, and the airline has put an emphasis on the *good part of the bag as well as its lovely contents, creating these passenger freebies out of recyclable kraft paper with all eco friendly materials.
Inside, it’s much the same. Virgin has partnered with REN to offer sustainable products, and introduced tooth brushes made from bamboo, with the idea that they’d be of high enough quality to reuse, rather than chuck into the bin after just one brush. But most importantly, there’s really cool socks, with rotating designs based on the destinations Virgin Atlantic serves.
REN’s goodie bag and Clubhouse lounge products are packaged in recycled and recyclable plastic, and the company has made a zero waste pledge for the year 2021, taking aim at becoming one of the most eco-friendly companies in the sector.
Virgin Atlantic is also partnering with Aveda for haircare products in the beloved Clubhouse lounges, which have been created using sustainable, naturally derived ingredients. You’ll now find these in washrooms and showers in Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses around the world.
All sound like a bunch of marketing BS? It’s not. Compared to a standard airline amenity kit, these new kits will save 945 tonnes of plastic waste each year, which is the weight equivalent of six Airbus A350 wide body jets. Even the pen is made out of recycled kraft paper.
But why stop there?
Virgin Atlantic is said to be marching toward even further single use waste reduction, as it introduces new fuel efficient A350-1000 and Airbus A330-900neo aircraft over the next two years. GSTP was briefed on plans to allow customers the opportunity to customise their own in-flight amenity kits, choosing which great products they might actually use, so that ones they won’t use aren’t wasted or loaded. It’s not how you think.
Rather than leave customers with less, the airline would instead offer a larger sized product of the skincare range you do like, so that it would become something you don’t just use once, but rather something you bring home and enjoy. In other words, rather than getting three little mini bottles, two of which you won’t use – you’d simply be able to select what you will use, and they’d give you a larger size of that one. That’s a massive step in waste reduction. Waste reduction = good.
Furthermore, Virgin has mulled plans to bring similar customer customisation concepts to everything from wider ranging pre order meals to loungewear in business class as well. Want just a t-shirt sized Medium, without the pyjama bottoms, that’s absolutely fine. Though they may not quite be office boardroom ready, the new pyjamas are legitimately comfortable and stylish.
Want to see the entire menu, including the special order dietary stuff and pre order from there, instead of meat or fish? Go for it. Currently, Virgin sends pre-order meal options to passengers 72 hours before the flight in an aim to cut down on food waste, but plans are in the air to widen the menu choices, bringing up to 15 different items.
Exact dates for many of these loftier goals are of yet unknown, but the thinking here is compelling as the travel industry aims to reduce its environmental impact. The new sustainable amenity kits and the REN partnership will debut in premium and business class on September 10th, with the inaugural Airbus A350 flight from London to NYC. Hotels, cruises and other travel sectors are just beginning to look at removal of single use toiletries, but it appears this airline has them beat, at least for now.